The Truth About Cars » Congress http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 11 Sep 2014 17:31:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Congress http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/congress-news-blog/ NHTSA Returning For Second Round Of US Senate Testimony September 16 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/nhtsa-returning-second-round-us-senate-testimony-september-16/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/nhtsa-returning-second-round-us-senate-testimony-september-16/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 12:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910674 A couple of months after General Motors CEO Mary Barra turned up inside the Beltway for a second round of testimony before the United States Senate over its part of the February 2014 ignition switch crisis, it’s now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s own second turn in the hot seat. Automotive News reports the […]

The post NHTSA Returning For Second Round Of US Senate Testimony September 16 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Acting NHTSA administrator David Friedman explains that General Motors will agree to a record fine of $35 million in civil penalties in Washington

A couple of months after General Motors CEO Mary Barra turned up inside the Beltway for a second round of testimony before the United States Senate over its part of the February 2014 ignition switch crisis, it’s now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s own second turn in the hot seat.

Automotive News reports the agency, represented by administrator David Friedman, will testify before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee’s consumer protection subcommittee September 16. Committee leader Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri will examine the NHTSA’s role in the aforementioned crisis, as well as its ability to find other auto safety issues:

I’m interested in the capability NHTSA has to get at problems. They’ve obviously missed some big ones. The part of NHTSA that is responsible for monitoring issues like [GM] — they haven’t even asked for an increase in staff and cars have gotten a lot more complicated.

In addition, McCaskill will also explore safety reforms to both vehicle and highway safety legislation, a handful of which — such as increased funding to help the agency better perform its tasks, and the removal of the $35 million cap on fines for automakers who failed to properly act on a defect — haven’t gained much traction as elections take precedent in 2014.

The post NHTSA Returning For Second Round Of US Senate Testimony September 16 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/nhtsa-returning-second-round-us-senate-testimony-september-16/feed/ 0
US-Korea Free Trade Agreement Results Darken Trans-Pacific Partnership http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/us-korea-free-trade-agreement-results-darken-trans-pacific-partnership/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/us-korea-free-trade-agreement-results-darken-trans-pacific-partnership/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 12:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=881026 Two years after the Obama administration heralded its free trade deal between the United States and South Korea, the latter’s market remains relatively closed to the former’s exports. The Detroit News reports U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, chairing her first Finance Committee subcommittee on international trade, proclaimed the free trade agreement fell short of […]

The post US-Korea Free Trade Agreement Results Darken Trans-Pacific Partnership appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Ford Korea

Two years after the Obama administration heralded its free trade deal between the United States and South Korea, the latter’s market remains relatively closed to the former’s exports.

The Detroit News reports U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, chairing her first Finance Committee subcommittee on international trade, proclaimed the free trade agreement fell short of expectations, noting the increasing deficit between the U.S. and South Korea by 50 percent in favor of the latter party, especially regarding automotive exports:

The agreement aimed to open Korea’s markets to American automakers. But agreeing to phase-out tariffs on U.S.-made automobiles hasn’t been enough. Due to non-tariff barriers, Korea remains one of the most closed auto markets in the world.

Ford vice president for international government relations Steve Biegun, also in attendance, said his employer will sell just 7,000 units in South Korea this year after 20 years of attempts to boost sales. Biegun said access to the Korean auto market remains a challenge, citing regulatory challenges.

This comes on the heels of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which seeks to do with Japan, the United States and 10 other nations what the U.S. had sought with South Korea. Biegun, CEO Mark Fields and Chairman Bill Ford Jr. warn the deal needs increased measures to hinder Japan’s ability to influence the value of the yen, while Stabenow adds there are “outstanding disputes” on agriculture and automobiles along other “very sticky issues” between all parties involved, especially Japan.

The post US-Korea Free Trade Agreement Results Darken Trans-Pacific Partnership appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/us-korea-free-trade-agreement-results-darken-trans-pacific-partnership/feed/ 27
DOT Dozen Call For Congress To Focus On Long-Term Of Infrastructure Funding http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/dot-dozen-call-for-congress-to-focus-on-long-term-of-infrastructure-funding/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/dot-dozen-call-for-congress-to-focus-on-long-term-of-infrastructure-funding/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 10:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874273 Alongside 11 former U.S. Department of Transportation secretaries, current secretary Anthony Foxx urged both houses of Congress to find a long-term solution to the funding of the U.S. Highway Trust Fund beyond what is under consideration at present. According to Autoblog, Foxx notes that while he and his comrades — going back 35 years and […]

The post DOT Dozen Call For Congress To Focus On Long-Term Of Infrastructure Funding appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
New Mexico bridge ramp construction

Alongside 11 former U.S. Department of Transportation secretaries, current secretary Anthony Foxx urged both houses of Congress to find a long-term solution to the funding of the U.S. Highway Trust Fund beyond what is under consideration at present.

According to Autoblog, Foxx notes that while he and his comrades — going back 35 years and 7 presidents in total — are hopeful the upcoming funding bill will go through, he states that the current unpredictability of the crisis-to-crisis method of governance over the past few years “is no way to run a railroad, fill a pothole, or repair a bridge.”

The DOT Dozen are calling, instead, for Congress to consider the long game regarding the nation’s infrastructure: 100 million new people and 14 billion tons of additional freight by 2050. There, they see some hope among the Beltway leadership to come up with ideas to remedy the issue, though finding consensus within the houses will take some time.

In the near term, Foxx explains that as much as $1.8 trillion will need to be spent by 2020 to bring surface infrastructure up to an adequate state, including the group of structurally deficient bridges whose number is great enough to connect Miami with Boston if laid end-to-end.

The post DOT Dozen Call For Congress To Focus On Long-Term Of Infrastructure Funding appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/dot-dozen-call-for-congress-to-focus-on-long-term-of-infrastructure-funding/feed/ 44
Foxx: No Penalties Issued Within NHTSA Over GM Ignition Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/foxx-no-penalties-issued-within-nhtsa-over-gm-ignition-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/foxx-no-penalties-issued-within-nhtsa-over-gm-ignition-recall/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871434 Though General Motors gave 15 of its employees the ax over their part of the February 2014 ignition switch recall, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told those in the National Press Club Monday that no one in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was fired or disciplined over their part of the recall and subsequent […]

The post Foxx: No Penalties Issued Within NHTSA Over GM Ignition Recall appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Anthony Foxx + Barack Obama et al

Though General Motors gave 15 of its employees the ax over their part of the February 2014 ignition switch recall, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told those in the National Press Club Monday that no one in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was fired or disciplined over their part of the recall and subsequent fallout.

The Detroit News reports that while no one was penalized in the slightest within the agency, Foxx ordered a review on the NHTSA’s handling of the recall and other complaints:

I’ve asked our inspector general to go through and do an after-action on this GM situation to see if there is anything we didn’t do that we should have done. We will learn from that report, and until that time we have our team intact.

Foxx also defended the NHTSA in regards to the possibility of rehiring former employees who are currently working in the auto industry, proclaiming it has “ethical requirements that really guard against” undue influence in favor of the automakers.

Meanwhile, both houses of Congress are planning a second round of hearings with the agency later this year, with the goal to determine why it failed to link a series of complaints over ignition/airbag issues in Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions to the out-of-spec switch at the heart of the February 2014 recall.

The post Foxx: No Penalties Issued Within NHTSA Over GM Ignition Recall appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/foxx-no-penalties-issued-within-nhtsa-over-gm-ignition-recall/feed/ 10
Barra Defends GM Top Lawyer In Second US Senate Hearing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/barra-defends-gm-top-lawyer-in-second-us-senate-hearing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/barra-defends-gm-top-lawyer-in-second-us-senate-hearing/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 11:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=869290 Under fire from the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee for not having fired General Motors’ top counsel Michael Millikin, CEO Mary Barra defended her decision to keep him on the company payroll during Thursday’s hearing over the February 2014 ignition recall crisis. Automotive News reports Barra believed Millikin, who has served as GM’s general counsel since […]

The post Barra Defends GM Top Lawyer In Second US Senate Hearing appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
General Motors CEO Mary Barra Testifies Before Senate Committee About GM's Recalls

Under fire from the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee for not having fired General Motors’ top counsel Michael Millikin, CEO Mary Barra defended her decision to keep him on the company payroll during Thursday’s hearing over the February 2014 ignition recall crisis.

Automotive News reports Barra believed Millikin, who has served as GM’s general counsel since 2009, to be “a man of incredibly high integrity” in spite of a number of his charges failing him and the automaker, five of whom were among the 15 let go from the company last month as a result of the Valukas report.

For his part, Millikin testified that he has enacted a number of changes into how his department functions, including bringing in an outside firm to review the automaker’s litigation practices, as well as bringing to his attention any lawsuits linked to a death and/or injury as a result of GM’s products. Millikin also claimed he was not aware of the issues surrounding the out-of-spec ignition switch until the February 2014 recall was issued.

Other highlights in today’s hearing include the testimony of GM supplier Delphi CEO Rodney O’Neal, proclaiming that said switch, despite being out-of-spec, “met the requirements” put forth by the automaker; Kenneth Feinberg’s testimony, where he explained to the Senate committee how he would help affected consumers find the proof needed to process a claim, as well as stating the list of eligible vehicles under the Feinberg plan was one of the few parts of the plan decided upon by GM; and consumer advocate Ralph Nader calling upon the automaker to bring aboard an independent ombudsman who could serve as a firewall from retribution for employees wanting to blow the whistle on a potential problem, then report the problems to the CEO.

The Senate committee will hold a separate hearing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over their part of the February 2014 GM ignition recall, though no date has been given thus far.

The post Barra Defends GM Top Lawyer In Second US Senate Hearing appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/barra-defends-gm-top-lawyer-in-second-us-senate-hearing/feed/ 11
Blumenthal, Casey Introduce Hide No Harm Act http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/blumenthal-casey-introduce-hide-no-harm-act/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/blumenthal-casey-introduce-hide-no-harm-act/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 10:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=869266 Wednesday, Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania introduced the Hide No Harm Act of 2014, which would criminalize the act of corporate concealment. Automotive News reports the act would deliver prison terms of up to five years and fines for corporate executives who know about a given product’s defects and their […]

The post Blumenthal, Casey Introduce Hide No Harm Act appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Sens Casey + Blumenthal

Wednesday, Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania introduced the Hide No Harm Act of 2014, which would criminalize the act of corporate concealment.

Automotive News reports the act would deliver prison terms of up to five years and fines for corporate executives who know about a given product’s defects and their potential to do harm, yet do nothing to warn their consumer base or employees.

Blumenthal noted that the act — meant to serve as a deterrent to future cases should Congress approve the bill — would not apply to the ongoing General Motors debacle, believing current criminal law was the right fit for the case.

The Hide No Harm Act of 2014 is co-sponsored Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, and provides legal protections for executives who do notify regulators and consumers about potential problems.

The post Blumenthal, Casey Introduce Hide No Harm Act appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/blumenthal-casey-introduce-hide-no-harm-act/feed/ 28
Obama Talks Connected Vehicles, Highway Funding http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/obama-talks-connected-vehicles-highway-funding/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/obama-talks-connected-vehicles-highway-funding/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 10:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866778 Amid touring the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va. and having a go at a driving simulator based upon a Saturn SL, President Barack Obama talked about connected vehicles and increasing highway funding before reporters in attendance Tuesday. Autoblog and Bloomberg report the President spoke for 14 minutes on both subjects, though the majority […]

The post Obama Talks Connected Vehicles, Highway Funding appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Barack Obama + Connected Vehicles

Amid touring the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va. and having a go at a driving simulator based upon a Saturn SL, President Barack Obama talked about connected vehicles and increasing highway funding before reporters in attendance Tuesday.

Autoblog and Bloomberg report the President spoke for 14 minutes on both subjects, though the majority of his speech focused upon the U.S. Highway Trust Fund. Obama warned that if Congress fails to come to a decision as to how the trust will be funded, 700,000 jobs and 100,000 active projects could be shuttered when the well runs dry next month. He offered some praise regarding bipartisan bills in both houses offering a solution, though Obama urged Congress to focus on the long term instead of “kicking the can down the road for a few months.”

On the connected vehicle front, he proclaimed his support for any new technology that could improve driver safety, referencing his 16-year-old daughter Malia alongside results of a study where 5.5 billion hours and $120 billion in time and fuel are lost annually due to traffic congestion. Obama also joked about his brief ride in the aforementioned simulator, finding the experience disorienting in relation to his diminishing driving experience.

The post Obama Talks Connected Vehicles, Highway Funding appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/obama-talks-connected-vehicles-highway-funding/feed/ 17
Delphi “Not A Target” Of DOJ Investigation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/delphi-not-a-target-of-doj-investigation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/delphi-not-a-target-of-doj-investigation/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866378 Though under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service over abode issues, Delphi says it is not under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice over its part of the February 2014 General Motors ignition recall. The Detroit News reports representative Claudia Tapia confirmed a report by Reuters that her employer is “not a target,” but […]

The post Delphi “Not A Target” Of DOJ Investigation appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Delphi HQ Sign

Though under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service over abode issues, Delphi says it is not under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice over its part of the February 2014 General Motors ignition recall.

The Detroit News reports representative Claudia Tapia confirmed a report by Reuters that her employer is “not a target,” but a witness in the affair. Like GM, the supplier has been subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, the office aided by a federal grand jury. Delphi has also turned over documents to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee as part of the latter’s own inquiry into what went wrong and when regarding the ignition switch linked to 13 fatalities, 54 accidents and 2.6 million recalled vehicles.

Later this week, Delphi CEO Rodney O’Neal will appear with GM CEO Mary Barra before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee in a second round of hearings; the committee also sent the supplier a detailed questionnaire about its role.

The post Delphi “Not A Target” Of DOJ Investigation appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/delphi-not-a-target-of-doj-investigation/feed/ 2
General Motors Digest: July 8, 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-8-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-8-2014/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 13:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=861585 In today’s General Motors Digest: Replacement ignition switches are shipping to dealership service bays in boxes that may not reflect the contents inside; GM hands over 2 million documents to the United States House of Representatives; and certain truck owners are on their own as far as rusty brake lines are concerned. Automotive News reports […]

The post General Motors Digest: July 8, 2014 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In today’s General Motors Digest: Replacement ignition switches are shipping to dealership service bays in boxes that may not reflect the contents inside; GM hands over 2 million documents to the United States House of Representatives; and certain truck owners are on their own as far as rusty brake lines are concerned.

Automotive News reports in a June 24, 2014 memo by the automaker to its 4,300-strong dealership network, GM would be shipping the ignition switches related to the February 2014 recalls in ACDelco boxes “due to the unprecedented volume of parts being shipped and the resulting shortage of GM Parts boxes.” The memo was composed to allay doubts of authenticity that might arise when the shipments arrive. As of June 25, 2014, 296,462 of the 2.6 million vehicles affected by the recall have been repaired, while GM expects to have the parts ready for the majority of the affected by October.

Over in the Beltway, The Detroit News says the automaker has turned over 2 million pages of records in relation to the February 2014 recall to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee as part of the latter’s ongoing investigation. Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, who is in the early stages of planning an auto safety overhaul bill, states that he wants to wrap up the investigation prior to making such a bill available for consideration. In an interview with WJR-AM, Upton is considering a national registry to easily track recalled vehicles in the repair stage, as well as when affected vehicles pass into the used car market.

Finally, Bloomberg reports that while General Motors has issued recalls left and right, it has not done so with 1.8 million light trucks and SUVs made between 1999 and 2003 affected by rusting brake lines. Further, the automaker says it’s the owner’s responsibility to prevent rusting and, if need be, replace the lines with a $500 MSRP kit. The defect has hit Salt Belt owners the hardest, where failed brake lines make up 43 out of 100,000 units sold, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The post General Motors Digest: July 8, 2014 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-8-2014/feed/ 36
General Motors Digest: July 3, 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-3-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-3-2014/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858049 In today’s General Motors digest: GM recalls a recall; the automaker gains market share in spite of itself; its bankruptcy judge believes it may have committed fraud; the U.S. Senate gets ready for a second February 2014 recall hearing; and Anthony Foxx vows to keep the heat turned up on GM. Detroit Free Press reports […]

The post General Motors Digest: July 3, 2014 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan

In today’s General Motors digest: GM recalls a recall; the automaker gains market share in spite of itself; its bankruptcy judge believes it may have committed fraud; the U.S. Senate gets ready for a second February 2014 recall hearing; and Anthony Foxx vows to keep the heat turned up on GM.

Detroit Free Press reports the automaker’s recall of the 2013 – 2014 Cadillac CTS over an ignition switch issue similar to the one affecting the 2010 – 2014 Chevrolet Camaro, as well as the issue that kicked off GM’s recall parade back in February, only affected 264 coupes and wagons assembled before the redesigned sedan left the factory floor; the sedan was incorrectly listed among the 8.4 million vehicles recalled worldwide Monday.

In spite of said recall parade, Automotive News says GM gained market shared in the first six months of 2014, jumping from 16.9 percent in January to 18.8 percent in June. Further, June 2014 sales climbed 1.2 percent to 1.42 million units — instead of falling 2.6 percent as some analysts had predicted — fueled by new models entering the showroom and more lease deals. In turn, the annualized selling rate rose to 16.98 million, the highest rate seen since July 2006, and one higher than 2013′s 15.9 million in the same period. GM hopes to keep up the pace by offering Cobalt owners and owners of other recalled vehicles a $500 incentive to trade-in for a certified used vehicle, and employee pricing on new models; so far, 21 percent of Cobalt owners have taken the automaker up on its offer between March and May 2014.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber, who presided over the automaker’s bankruptcy proceedings in 2009, may have to haul GM back in on fraud charges if evidence is found, pointing to then-CEO Fritz Henderson’s possible knowledge — and obfuscation — of the ignition switch problem. Should the evidence be there, Judge Gerber could force the automaker to pay billions of dollars to any of the plaintiffs in the 90-plus lawsuits now waiting for his approval to proceed, which could come as soon as September 15.

Over in the Beltway, Reuters says a consumer protection and product safety subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee will hold a second hearing on the February 2014 recall July 17, though no announcement has been made as to who will be invited to testify as of this writing.

Finally, The Detroit News reports U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration both vow to “keep putting the screws on [GM's safety efforts] until it gets right.” The agency, who is monitoring the automaker for the next three years as part of the latter’s settlement with the federal government, will look into the newest recalls to determine if GM issued them in a timely manner, though Foxx thinks the automaker is acting in good faith.

The post General Motors Digest: July 3, 2014 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-3-2014/feed/ 3
General Motors Digest: June 27, 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-digest-june-27-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-digest-june-27-2014/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=854625 In today’s General Motors digest: The automaker rescinds its stop-sale of 33,000 Chevrolet Cruzes over Takata air bag issues, recalls 29,019; Delphi turns over documents to a federal grand jury; Kenneth Feinberg’s compensation plan will be revealed Monday; and CEO Mary Barra says more recalls may be coming, but no more people will be fired […]

The post General Motors Digest: June 27, 2014 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Mary Barra at 2014 Detroit Auto Show

In today’s General Motors digest: The automaker rescinds its stop-sale of 33,000 Chevrolet Cruzes over Takata air bag issues, recalls 29,019; Delphi turns over documents to a federal grand jury; Kenneth Feinberg’s compensation plan will be revealed Monday; and CEO Mary Barra says more recalls may be coming, but no more people will be fired as a result of the Valukas report.

Automotive News reports GM lifted its stop-sale order of 33,000 2013 – 2014 Chevrolet Cruzes due to a defective airbag inflator found in units provided by supplier Takata once the automaker accounted for all the affected vehicles by comparing VINs to the parts list. Detroit Free Press adds GM then recalled the affected units, totaling 29,019, all of them still under its new vehicle warranty. The defect, if not treated, could result in the inflator — and the airbag unit overall — catastrophically exploding or non-deployment of the airbag in an accident.

Speaking of suppliers, The Detroit News says Delphi delivered hundreds of documents related to its part of the February 2014 ignition switch recall to the U.S. Justice Department via grand jury subpoena. The supplier also sought confidential treatment in turning over the requested documents. Meanwhile, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee made public 80 emails and other documents by the automaker and the supplier illustrating GM’s struggles with the ignition switch, painting “a disturbing and devastating picture, a beyond-worst-case systemic breakdown that led to lives needlessly lost,” according to U.S. Representatives Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania and Fred Upton of Michigan.

Automotive News reports Kenneth Feinberg, the victim-compensation expert hired by GM to compensate victims of the defective ignition switch, will announce his plan Monday at 10 a.m. in Washington, D.C. Though no dollar amount will likely be pegged in the announcement, the terms of the plan could sway victims into accepting compensation over filing a lawsuit against GM. The automaker did not provide its own estimate, as well.

Finally, Reuters reports CEO Mary Barra said during an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s “The Today Show” that more recalls could come down the pike, based on data received. She also commented on the Feinberg plan, stating her company wants “every single person who either lost a loved one or has a serious physical injury to be a part of that program.” Detroit Free Press adds that when Lauer asked if there would be more firings linked to the ignition switch, Barra proclaimed everyone who would be let go has been let go. She emphasized that the “silos of information” that obfuscated the issue were being torn down, with employees taking notes during safety meetings that are then presented to her for review.

The post General Motors Digest: June 27, 2014 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-digest-june-27-2014/feed/ 72
Senator Rockefeller Proposes Legislation To Strengthen NHTSA http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/senator-rockefeller-proposes-legislation-to-strengthen-nhtsa/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/senator-rockefeller-proposes-legislation-to-strengthen-nhtsa/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 12:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=854577 Outgoing chair of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia (pictured at right) has proposed legislation that would authorize increased funding and authority to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to deal with safety defects in vehicles. Automotive News reports the bill, inspired by the February 2014 General Motors recall of […]

The post Senator Rockefeller Proposes Legislation To Strengthen NHTSA appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia

Outgoing chair of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia (pictured at right) has proposed legislation that would authorize increased funding and authority to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to deal with safety defects in vehicles.

Automotive News reports the bill, inspired by the February 2014 General Motors recall of 2.6 million vehicles over an out-of-spec ignition switch linked to 54 accidents and 13 fatalities thus far, would also ban sales of used vehicles under recall until the problem is fixed or the buyer is alerted to the issue. In addition, the public would gain access to early warning reports sent by automakers to the NHTSA, a proposition made earlier this year by Sens. Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Bluementhal of Connecticut.

As for the funding component, Rockefeller proposes automakers pay a user fee based on their sales in the United States. The fee would start at $3 per vehicle sold one year after the bill becomes law, increasing by an additional $3 per year through the third year, at which point the fee would adjust with inflation on an annual basis.

The post Senator Rockefeller Proposes Legislation To Strengthen NHTSA appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/senator-rockefeller-proposes-legislation-to-strengthen-nhtsa/feed/ 31
Bipartisan Senate Bill To Raise Fuel Taxes For The First Time Since 1993 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bipartisan-senate-bill-to-raise-fuel-taxes-since-1993/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bipartisan-senate-bill-to-raise-fuel-taxes-since-1993/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=846921 For over two decades, the federal fuel tax has held at 18.4 cents for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel per gallon sold. A bipartisan bill working through the United States Senate could soon change this, especially as the nation’s Highway Trust Fund — used for funding infrastructure projects — comes closer to running dry […]

The post Bipartisan Senate Bill To Raise Fuel Taxes For The First Time Since 1993 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
gas-pump-save-ftr

For over two decades, the federal fuel tax has held at 18.4 cents for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel per gallon sold. A bipartisan bill working through the United States Senate could soon change this, especially as the nation’s Highway Trust Fund — used for funding infrastructure projects — comes closer to running dry by August of this year.

Reuters reports Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Chris Murphy of Connecticut want to raise both taxes by 12 cents, which would be spread out over two years prior to linking future increases to inflation. The senators also proposed tax cuts to make up for the increase, though nothing was specified at the time.

Meanwhile, some legislators want to fund the trust through a corporate offshore profit tax repatriation holiday that would resemble a 2004 proposal led by former president George W. Bush: 12 months, 85 percent deduction for dividends paid. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated the holiday would bring in $20 billion during the period, but would lead to expectations for more holidays down the road.

President Barack Obama opposes this method, believing “it would give large tax breaks to a very small number of companies that have most aggressively shifted profits, and in many cases, jobs, overseas,” according to White House representative Jay Carney.

The post Bipartisan Senate Bill To Raise Fuel Taxes For The First Time Since 1993 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bipartisan-senate-bill-to-raise-fuel-taxes-since-1993/feed/ 122
Barra Returns To Face Congress Post-Valukas Report http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/barra-returns-to-face-congress-post-valukas-report/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/barra-returns-to-face-congress-post-valukas-report/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 10:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=846857 In today’s digest: General Motors CEO Mary Barra returns to the Beltway with Anton Valukas in tow; GM is hit with a $10 billion lawsuit; affected families appear before Barra’s testimony; and a safety group calls the Valukas report “flawed.” Automotive News reports Barra made good on her promise to return to Capitol Hill for […]

The post Barra Returns To Face Congress Post-Valukas Report appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Barra and Valukas are sworn in before House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill

In today’s digest: General Motors CEO Mary Barra returns to the Beltway with Anton Valukas in tow; GM is hit with a $10 billion lawsuit; affected families appear before Barra’s testimony; and a safety group calls the Valukas report “flawed.”

Automotive News reports Barra made good on her promise to return to Capitol Hill for a second round of Congressional hearings over the February 2014 ignition switch recall that has upended the automaker for the time being. During Wednesday’s hearing before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, she proclaimed any unexpected vehicle shutdown to now be considered a safety concern by the automaker, instead of waiting until a clear link surfaced on its own prior to action. The hearing also revealed just how much more work awaits GM in overhauling its corporate culture for the better of all, recounting a report made by an employee in 2005 about ignition switch issues in the 2006 Chevrolet Impala similar to those in the Cobalt. However, it would take until this week for a “big recall” of the mid-size sedan over the issue to occur due to the company’s widespread safety deficiencies.

Later in the hearing, former U.S. attorney Anton Valukas, hired by GM to conduct an independent internal investigation into the recall, took questions about his report. Valukas stated that while he had unfettered access to the automaker, getting through to supplier Delphi and trial lawyers leading cases against GM was easier said than done. Barra then had words about Ray DeGiorgio, the former GM engineer named repeatedly in the Valukas report for his approval of the original switch and its undocumented redesign. In short, she didn’t find DeGiorgio “credible” regarding his statements to Valukas’ team of investigators.

Finally, Barra addressed the issue of compensation for the families affected by the original recall, stating victim-compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg would have total control of the fund, and that GM will have no cap on compensation:

We want to capture every single person who suffered serious injury or lost a loved one — every single one. If the ignition switch was part of the issue, we want them in the program. We want to get everybody that’s affected.

Reuters reports GM is now under the gun of a $10 billion lawsuit filed by Hagens Berman Sobal Shapiro in federal court in Riverside, Calif. on behalf of Anna Andrews. The lawsuit calls for compensation due to lost resale value for those who owned or leased a GM vehicle between July 10, 2009 and April 1, 2014; Andrews herself claimed she would have not purchased her used 2010 Buick LaCrosse — or would have opted for a lower price — “had GM done a better job of disclosing vehicle defects.” Should all come to pass, some 15 million GM customers would receive damages whether their vehicles were recalled or not.

Detroit Free Press says the families affected by the defective switch at the heart of the February 2014 recall made an appearance alongside U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut prior to Wednesday’s hearing to help others who may have been harmed by products not under recall, and to call for quicker issuing of recalls of flawed vehicles. The families shared stories of how GM’s negligence destroyed the lives of not only those behind the wheel of the vehicles with the defect, but their lives as well. Blumenthal added that “the victims who settled should be given the opportunity to recontest their claims.”

Finally, Center for Auto Safety director Clarence Ditlow penned a letter to Valukas, stating the attorney had accepted the automaker’s defense “that its engineers and senior managers did not know” stalling in vehicles was a major safety issue, to the detriment of his report. He added that the Valukas report had omitted or missed evidence “in constructing what amounts to a corporate defense against criminal charges… that show GM at its highest levels of management considers stalling to be a safety defect.” The report said officials did not consider stalling issues in the Cobalt or Saturn Ion as a hazard until the issue was linked to the failed deployment of air bags due to a loss of power prior to an accident.

The post Barra Returns To Face Congress Post-Valukas Report appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/barra-returns-to-face-congress-post-valukas-report/feed/ 5
Barra, Valukas To Meet With House Committee Next Week http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/barra-valukas-to-meet-with-house-committee-next-week/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/barra-valukas-to-meet-with-house-committee-next-week/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 12:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=842946 As promised in April before both the U.S. House and Senate, General Motors CEO Mary Barra will appear next Wednesday in Washington, D.C. for a second round of congressional hearings over the February 2014 GM ignition switch recall. Automotive News reports Barra will be accompanied by former U.S. attorney Anton Valukas, who was called upon […]

The post Barra, Valukas To Meet With House Committee Next Week appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Mary Barra

As promised in April before both the U.S. House and Senate, General Motors CEO Mary Barra will appear next Wednesday in Washington, D.C. for a second round of congressional hearings over the February 2014 GM ignition switch recall.

Automotive News reports Barra will be accompanied by former U.S. attorney Anton Valukas, who was called upon by GM to independently investigate and report the findings on the how and why an out-of-spec ignition switch made at the turn of the millennium became the monster that flipped the automaker on its head nearly 14 years later. Both Barra and Valukas will meet with the House Energy and Commerce Committee to discuss the latter’s findings.

According to a statement made by GM, Barra’s visit is meant to update the committee “on the actions GM is taking in response” to the recall, including “fixing the failures identified in the Valukas report, building a culture centered on safety, quality and excellence, and doing what’s right for victims and their families.” The report cleared Barra and top execs of wrongdoing regarding the switch and recall, and proclaimed no cover-up in the matter.

The Senate Commerce Committee is still conducting its investigation into GM, but has not at this time set up an appointment with Barra and Valukas for its own hearing over the report.

The post Barra, Valukas To Meet With House Committee Next Week appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/barra-valukas-to-meet-with-house-committee-next-week/feed/ 8
AAA: 51 Percent Surveyed Willing To Pay For Better Roads http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/aaa-51-percent-surveyed-willing-to-pay-for-better-roads/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/aaa-51-percent-surveyed-willing-to-pay-for-better-roads/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 10:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=842890 As those inside the Beltway debate how best to fund their responsibility for the nation’s transportation infrastructure, a AAA study finds most Americans would pay more taxes for better roads. Autoblog reports 67 percent of the 2,013 surveyed by AAA want the federal government to get it together and put more money into maintenance, with […]

The post AAA: 51 Percent Surveyed Willing To Pay For Better Roads appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Carmageddon

As those inside the Beltway debate how best to fund their responsibility for the nation’s transportation infrastructure, a AAA study finds most Americans would pay more taxes for better roads.

Autoblog reports 67 percent of the 2,013 surveyed by AAA want the federal government to get it together and put more money into maintenance, with 52 percent in support of an increase in fuel taxes. Further, 51 percent surveyed would go as far as supporting a candidate who would support increases in funding for road maintenance and construction.

AAA CEO and president Bob Darbelnet added that many Americans were “willing to pay a little more” in taxes if the result led to “better roads, bridges and transit systems,” having become “fed up with record-long commutes, unsafe highways and never-ending potholes caused by political inaction.” In turn, the organization claims drivers would save $324 annually on road-related repairs for their vehicles.

AAA’s call to action comes under the potential threat of road work delays when the Highway Trust Fund — whose replenishment depends on the 18.3-cent/gallon gasoline and 22.4-cent/gallon diesel taxes that last saw an increase over 20 years ago — runs out of funds sometime this August. The Obama administration and a few members of Congress have offered solutions to the funding problem, but nothing more as come of them thus far.

The post AAA: 51 Percent Surveyed Willing To Pay For Better Roads appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/aaa-51-percent-surveyed-willing-to-pay-for-better-roads/feed/ 106
Barra: “Nobody Took Responsibility” For Defective Ignition Switch http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/barra-nobody-took-responsibility-for-defective-ignition-switch/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/barra-nobody-took-responsibility-for-defective-ignition-switch/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 10:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=838321 Automotive News reports General Motors CEO Mary Barra delivered a 15-minute blistering speech before those in attendance and online regarding the Valukas report, which detailed the how and why a defective ignition switch first brought to life in 2001 led to the February 2014 recall of 2.6 million vehicles so equipped and the firestorm that […]

The post Barra: “Nobody Took Responsibility” For Defective Ignition Switch appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Mary Barra at 2014 Detroit Auto Show

Automotive News reports General Motors CEO Mary Barra delivered a 15-minute blistering speech before those in attendance and online regarding the Valukas report, which detailed the how and why a defective ignition switch first brought to life in 2001 led to the February 2014 recall of 2.6 million vehicles so equipped and the firestorm that followed. In her words, “nobody took responsibility” for the problems, that “there was no demonstrated sense of urgency” during the time period to fix the problems that still haunt the automaker. Barra added that she would never put the recall crisis behind GM, to “keep this painful experience” permanently upon the head of the corporation so as nothing like this would ever occur once more. At the end, she proclaimed her belief in GM and its employees in being able to face “the truth” about itself, and that the General overall was better than its previous actions.

After Barra dropped the mic, the automaker announced 15 individuals with ties to the ignition switch recall were fired. Of those no longer employed, seven have been identified thus far:

  • Ray DeGiorgio: Engineer
  • Mike Robinson: Vice president of sustainability and global regulatory affairs
  • Gay Kent: General director of vehicle safety
  • Carmen Benavides: Director of field product investigations
  • William Kemp: Senior lawyer, safety
  • Gary Altman: Program engineering manager
  • Lawrence Buonomo: Senior lawyer, product liability

The remaining eight have yet to be named as of this writing.

Over in the Beltway, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce and U.S. Senate Commerce committees have called Barra and Anton Valukas for the second round of testimonies the former promised would occur once the independent investigation led by Valukas released its findings to the public. Representative Fred Upton of Michigan and Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, both chairs of their respective committees, both noted it would take time to go over the report before drawing their conclusions. McCaskill warned that she would not allow “GM leadership, or federal regulators, escape accountability” over the recall and the 47 accidents — including 13 fatalities thus far — linked to it.

Finally, Barra warned the recall parade that began in February would likely continue “in the near term,” abating “to historical levels, or slightly higher” as claimed by CFO Chuck Stevens in the conference call with analysts following Barra’s speech. She also promised that GM’s recall efforts would become “the new norm” for the automaker as it follows the CEO’s focus on customer safety.

The post Barra: “Nobody Took Responsibility” For Defective Ignition Switch appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/barra-nobody-took-responsibility-for-defective-ignition-switch/feed/ 25
General Motors To Release Valukas Report On Ignition Switch Thursday http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-to-release-valukas-report-on-ignition-switch-thursday/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-to-release-valukas-report-on-ignition-switch-thursday/#comments Thu, 05 Jun 2014 12:01:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=838009 Automotive News reports General Motors will release Thursday the results of attorney Anton Valukas’s three-month independent internal investigation into how and where the automaker went wrong before recalling 2.6 million vehicles affected by an out-of-spec ignition switch linked to 47 accidents and at least 13 fatalities. The announcement will come at 9 a.m. Eastern via […]

The post General Motors To Release Valukas Report On Ignition Switch Thursday appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
File photo of General Motors logo outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit

Automotive News reports General Motors will release Thursday the results of attorney Anton Valukas’s three-month independent internal investigation into how and where the automaker went wrong before recalling 2.6 million vehicles affected by an out-of-spec ignition switch linked to 47 accidents and at least 13 fatalities. The announcement will come at 9 a.m. Eastern via webcast, with what CEO Mary Barra says will be an “unvarnished” look at the events surrounding the recall. In addition, GM will have an update on plans for compensating victims of the switch, though the attorney heading up the affair, Kenneth Feinberg, says a formal announcement won’t come until a few weeks down the road. Reuters adds the Valukas report will likely exonerate Barra, former CEO Dan Akerson and other senior execs and board members of any wrongdoing over the recall, with “a number of people” to be formally dismissed from the company due to their ties to recall. The report will be turned over to the federal government by the end of June.

Speaking of turned-over documents, The Detroit News reports some 1 million pages of records linked to the ignition switch have been turned over to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee in its investigation into the matter, now expected to last well into the summer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also delivered a total of 15,000 documents related to its handling of the recall to the committee, as well. As for when Barra will return for a second round of testimony before Congress, the first potential date may be set sometime in July at the earliest.

Finally, Reuters says Canadian labor union Unifor will strike at GM supplier Johnson Controls Whitby, Ontario plant if the powers that be refuse to reconsider plans to shut down the plant and move production outside of Canada in two years. The strike would “shut down GM” at its Oshawa plant according to statements made before the 36th UAW Constitutional Congress by Unifor president Jerry Dias, with the strike and negotiations set to commence in August. The Whitby plant supplies interior components for the Chevrolet Camaro and Impala, which are assembled in Oshawa alongside the Cadillac XTS and Buick Regal.

The post General Motors To Release Valukas Report On Ignition Switch Thursday appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-to-release-valukas-report-on-ignition-switch-thursday/feed/ 6
Senate Committee Approves Move To Bar Hybrids From Further Solo HOV Access http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/senate-committee-approves-move-to-bar-hybrids-from-further-solo-hov-access/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/senate-committee-approves-move-to-bar-hybrids-from-further-solo-hov-access/#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=828642 Hybrid owners may soon need a co-pilot and a couple of backseat drivers to use HOV lanes, as the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a six-year highway spending bill with an amendment that would redefine for states what vehicles can and cannot use such lanes for solo driving. The Detroit News reports […]

The post Senate Committee Approves Move To Bar Hybrids From Further Solo HOV Access appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Prius Capitol Hill - Picture courtesy Flickr.com

Hybrid owners may soon need a co-pilot and a couple of backseat drivers to use HOV lanes, as the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a six-year highway spending bill with an amendment that would redefine for states what vehicles can and cannot use such lanes for solo driving.

The Detroit News reports Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma sponsored the approved amendment, which would continue to allow EVs, PHEVs, CNG vehicles and hydrogen vehicles to use HOV lanes with a only the driver inside, but would prohibit states from allowing hybrids to use such lanes in new access programs. That said, most states have already ended single-occupant hybrid access.

In the meantime, California — which phased out hybrid access in 2011 — has run out of access permits for PHEVs, hitting its 40,000 cap earlier this year. The state’s legislators have introduced legislation that would boost the total cap to 85,000, with the permits set to expire on New Year’s Day 2019. EV owners will still have solo HOV access, as there is no cap set for those permits.

Speaking of EVs, another amendment in the spending bill would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to “develop a plan and map of a potential national network of electric vehicle corridors and recharging infrastructure” in collaboration with the automotive industry and outside parties according to its sponsor, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

The post Senate Committee Approves Move To Bar Hybrids From Further Solo HOV Access appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/senate-committee-approves-move-to-bar-hybrids-from-further-solo-hov-access/feed/ 45
Endless GM Recall Parade Sign Of Industry-Wide Action To Come http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/endless-gm-recall-parade-sign-of-industry-wide-action-to-come/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/endless-gm-recall-parade-sign-of-industry-wide-action-to-come/#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 10:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=828562 Detroit Free Press posits the endless recall parade General Motors has been leading since late February 2014 may be doing more harm than good for public perception or its bottom line. Though spokesman Greg Martin claimed the recalls were an effort to make his employer “a first-class safety organization” by focusing hard upon the consumer, […]

The post Endless GM Recall Parade Sign Of Industry-Wide Action To Come appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
GM RenCen Storm Clouds

Detroit Free Press posits the endless recall parade General Motors has been leading since late February 2014 may be doing more harm than good for public perception or its bottom line. Though spokesman Greg Martin claimed the recalls were an effort to make his employer “a first-class safety organization” by focusing hard upon the consumer, a survey by AutoTrader found 51 percent of auto consumers were less confident in the industry’s overall safety record as a result of the actions by GM, up from 44 percent who thought the same five days’ earlier. In addition, the automaker will take a $400 million charge in Q2 2014 for the recalls since April 1 as of this writing, while its current stock price of $33.07 per share is a few cents above its IPO price from November 2010.

Autoblog continues on this thread, proclaiming what GM is doing is the beginning of an industry-wide shift toward issuing full recalls for any flaw in a given product, all under heightened scrutiny from the public and government regulators. For the first months of this year alone, all automakers have recalled a total of 22.4 million vehicles, the bulk of which belong to GM. Kelly Blue Book analyst Akshay Anand says the parade is a double-edge sword, particularly for the General; while such recalls are a sign automakers are being proactive in ensuring their products are as safe as they can be, consumers may perceive the effort as a sign automakers are failing to do their job well in the first place.

Automotive News follows with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne, who stated in a panel discussion at the Brookings Institute this week what else might occur when the GM-led parade becomes a permanent fixture in the industry:

If effectively this frequency of recalls becomes a norm, if everybody starts doing this, then I think you will see this cost being shifted to the consumer. It will transfer itself over onto the selling price of the vehicle.

Marchionne adds automakers, in turn, will act more sensibly in handling potential defects in product, noting punitive actions — such as paying $35 million in fines to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — will have little in the way of such handling when reputation is the bigger issue for the industry as a whole.

Speaking of the main parade itself, Autoblog reports 218,000 2004 through 2008 Chevrolet Aveos have been recalled due to the daytime running light module in the instrument panel possibly overheating, melting and setting the vehicle ablaze. According to spokesman Alan Adler, the automaker is “aware of some fires” so far, and is working on a fix for the module. Adler adds that while he doesn’t know when the fix will come, GM will send a second notice to owners when the time comes to schedule repair work.

Detroit Free Press concludes by explaining why GM continues to issue recalls as it combs through its records to avoid another decade-long delay in taking such action:

  • The government has ordered the automaker to meet with the NHTSA monthly on investigations and recalls as part of the former’s $35 million settlement with the latter
  • GM CEO Mary Barra’s appointment of Jeff Boyer to global quality chief — with the mandate to report directly to her if necessary — means anything deemed dangerous or otherwise unknown, including previously unreported defects — are up for attention
  • The automaker’s investors prefer to get the bad news out of the way and accept whatever potential pain awaits in as few quarters as possible, even if no one is happy about swallowing such medicine in the first place

The Freep also provided a list of every recall from January through this week, minus the latest recall issued Wednesday; total recall to date is 18,666,842.

GM

On the sales front, Automotive News reports dealers won’t be able to sell any of the 2009 through 2014 Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia crossovers thanks to a stop-sale order issued in a recall involving the front seat belt cable in the vehicles. The order comes during one of the biggest sales weekends of the year, putting a damper on potential Memorial Day promotions. Though dealers could still close on sales without actually allowing the vehicle to leave the lot, no test drives can be carried out in affected demonstrators, making such sales more difficult. GM is offering an end-of-month incentive to maintain May sales momentum, but that may not be enough to offset the extra floorplanning costs if few vehicles can be sold until the affected units are repaired.

Back in the Beltway, Barra met with U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri and other members of Congress to discuss recent findings in the February 2014 ignition switch recall. Though spokesman Greg Martin confirmed the meetings did take place, he did not give details on all that was said between Congress and the CEO.

Meanwhile, members of the Obama administration who helped assemble the rescue packages for both Chrysler and GM said they knew nothing about the out-of-spec switch at the heart of the recall maelstrom when said packages were crafted between them and the automaker’s senior execs. One member, Harry Wilson, stated that even if the task force asked GM point-blank about the switch, he doubted they would ever get a straight answer. Lead adviser Steven Rattner added that as far as he knew, the execs before him then didn’t know about the problem; therefore, neither could his task force.

Over in Texas, Bloomberg both GM and supplier Delphi have asked the Texas Supreme Court to combine four suits linked to the switch into one state case. The claim is fighting each one separately would cost the duo time and money, while combining the four and rolling subsequent cases going forward into a single case would “eliminate duplicative discovery, void conflicting pretrial rulings, conserve judicial resources, be more convenient for the parties and witnesses and otherwise promote a more just and efficient conduct of this litigation.” The cases mention involve wrongful injury and death.

With GM’s cadre of lawyers coming under the gun now, Detroit Free Press reports the automaker’s general counsel Michael Millikin has named attorney Lucy Clark Doughtery to advise Boyer and product development chief Mark Reuss. Millikin is also working with independent lawyer Anton Valukas on the internal investigation into why GM handled the recall the way it had. The general counsel’s own future with the company has been called into question, though GM claims Millikin has no “current plans to retire” at this time.

In financial news, Automotive News says GM Financial is preparing to go under its own test of scrutiny of loans originated by its dealership network in an effort to avoid punitive action by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau based on allegations of discrimination in lending rates among minority consumers. The lender’s chief compliance officer, Dan Bickmore, says his role is to help reorganize the company into compliance with the CFPB, going as far as to establish a new compliance department and boosting the lender’s complaint management process and fair lending areas. He also aims to help educate dealerships on appropriate lending policies to prevent discrimination of protected classes when drafting a loan or lease contract.

On the design front, global design chief Ed Welburn says that with GM’s line of vehicles sharing the same technology and functionality with each other, styling will be needed to help differentiate each unit. He goes on to say the automaker has committed a few design sins in the past, favoring functionality over style and charm, as well as decontenting interiors when a product was overbudget. Welburn concludes that the new guard leading GM “really cares about interiors now, and it shows,” such as the interiors in the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette and Cadillac ELR.

Finally, The Detroit News says the 2015 GMC Sierra All Terrain HD will go on sale this summer. The pickup will be available in 2500 and 3500 weight classes with double and crew cab options, with trim lines to include SLE, SLT and Z71. Power is expected to come from a standard 6-liter gasoline engine, with a twin-turbo Duramax diesel on the options list.

The post Endless GM Recall Parade Sign Of Industry-Wide Action To Come appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/endless-gm-recall-parade-sign-of-industry-wide-action-to-come/feed/ 27
Foxx, Obama Administration Urge Congress To Act On Funding Highway Trust http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/foxx-obama-administration-urge-congress-to-act-on-funding-highway-trust/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/foxx-obama-administration-urge-congress-to-act-on-funding-highway-trust/#comments Thu, 15 May 2014 14:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=820890 With 112,000 infrastructure projects and 700,000 jobs at stake, the Obama administration and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx are both urging Congress find a way to provide funding to the United States Highway Trust Fund before the well goes dry as early as August. Autoblog reports both parties offered Congress a four-year funding bill that […]

The post Foxx, Obama Administration Urge Congress To Act On Funding Highway Trust appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
traffic

With 112,000 infrastructure projects and 700,000 jobs at stake, the Obama administration and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx are both urging Congress find a way to provide funding to the United States Highway Trust Fund before the well goes dry as early as August.

Autoblog reports both parties offered Congress a four-year funding bill that would help raise the needed funds through tolling by individual states, and through closing a loophole on deferred corporate taxes on overseas earnings, which alone would bring $150 billion to the table.

In the Senate, an alternative bill is in the works that would retain funding levels at $105 billion annually with interest for six years, though sourcing the funds would come at a later date. Meanwhile, Republican legislators aren’t keen on raising taxes to fund the trust, especially during the 2014 election season.

As for why the fund is running dry, an 18.4-cent-per-gallon fuel tax issued in the 1990s hasn’t been raised in over 20 years to keep up with increased fuel efficiency among new vehicles, with more increases coming down the CAFE pipeline.

The post Foxx, Obama Administration Urge Congress To Act On Funding Highway Trust appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/foxx-obama-administration-urge-congress-to-act-on-funding-highway-trust/feed/ 94
Former GM PR Exec Steve Harris Returns Under Ignition Recall Fallout http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/former-gm-pr-exec-steve-harris-returns-under-ignition-recall-fallout/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/former-gm-pr-exec-steve-harris-returns-under-ignition-recall-fallout/#comments Fri, 09 May 2014 10:20:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=818458 (Note: header image changed based on whim of E-I-C pro tem, some will understand why — JB) Detroit Free Press reports former General Motors vice president of communications Steve Harris has been called out of retirement to help guide his former employer through the fallout of the February 2014 ignition recall crisis “for a limited […]

The post Former GM PR Exec Steve Harris Returns Under Ignition Recall Fallout appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
harris

(Note: header image changed based on whim of E-I-C pro tem, some will understand why — JB)

Detroit Free Press reports former General Motors vice president of communications Steve Harris has been called out of retirement to help guide his former employer through the fallout of the February 2014 ignition recall crisis “for a limited time.” According to spokesman Greg Martin, Harris’ “deep background with GM and proven experience” will be of great benefit to the company. His second return the company — the first in 2006 at the request of then-CEO Rick Wagoner after leaving in 2003 — comes on the heels of successor Selim Bingol’s resignation in April of this year.

Regarding the switch itself, Autoblog reports testing of the recommended temporary fix — using the key with nothing attached — conducted by both the automaker and the U.S. Department of Transportation have shown the cars can be driven safely as-is. In addition, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx responded to the call by Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut to order GM to pull the 2.6 million affected vehicles off the road until they are repaired, stating that “such an action is not necessary at this time,” and that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “is satisfied” with the temporary solution proposed by GM.

In lawsuit news, Automotive News reports the automaker is seeking shelter from a group of customers seeking information on its handling of the ongoing recall in a federal court in Texas. The judge reviewing the 60 suits against the company has stated he would consider such requests from the plaintiffs while deciding if their demands are lawful, while GM says such evidence should be “scheduled in a coordinated fashion” after consolidation of all suits pending.

Finally, GM, its dealers, and its customer base may have to traverse a long, hard road out of hell before everything settles down around the main recall and subsequent recalls that have come over the past few months. Detroit Free Press says the automaker will need 9 million parts from its suppliers — from new ignitions to power steering motors — and several months to repair all affected vehicles dropped off at its 4,300-strong dealership network. The wait alone for parts to arrive may take as much as four weeks to arrive for some dealers, as Delphi and other suppliers are ramping up production to meet demand.

The post Former GM PR Exec Steve Harris Returns Under Ignition Recall Fallout appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/former-gm-pr-exec-steve-harris-returns-under-ignition-recall-fallout/feed/ 20
CA, MD Extend EV/PHEV Credit Programs, Federal Credit Increase May Follow http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/ca-md-extend-evphev-credit-programs-federal-credit-increase-may-follow/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/ca-md-extend-evphev-credit-programs-federal-credit-increase-may-follow/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=815506 EV and PHEV owners in California and Maryland will be able to enjoy credits for the foreseeable future for going green, while one representative in Congress wants to up federal tax credits to $10,000. Autoblog Green reports the success of the California Air Resources Board’s credit program has resulted in a funding expansion of $25 […]

The post CA, MD Extend EV/PHEV Credit Programs, Federal Credit Increase May Follow appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2014 Honda Fit EV

EV and PHEV owners in California and Maryland will be able to enjoy credits for the foreseeable future for going green, while one representative in Congress wants to up federal tax credits to $10,000.

Autoblog Green reports the success of the California Air Resources Board’s credit program has resulted in a funding expansion of $25 million through the end of the state’s fiscal year in late June. Those seeking rebates on their EV or plug-in purchases will be put on a list, and should receive either their $2,500 EV or $1,500 PHEV credit by the end of September.

Over in Maryland, a provisional bill awaiting Governor Martin O’Malley’s signature will extend the state’s credit program for three years through the end of June 2017. In addition, the maximum credit offered will be increased to $3,000 from $1,000 for PHEV owners.

Finally, U.S. Representative Peter Welch of Vermont is preparing to propose legislation that would boost the federal tax credit from $7,500 to $10,000, which he believes will also make owning an EV more affordable to middle-income consumers. Welch will introduce the legislation upon return to Congress.

The post CA, MD Extend EV/PHEV Credit Programs, Federal Credit Increase May Follow appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/ca-md-extend-evphev-credit-programs-federal-credit-increase-may-follow/feed/ 23
Obama Administration Delivers $302 Billion Transportation Funding Proposal Before Congress http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/obama-administration-delivers-302-billion-transportation-funding-proposal-before-congress/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/obama-administration-delivers-302-billion-transportation-funding-proposal-before-congress/#comments Wed, 30 Apr 2014 11:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=812826 A $302 billion, four-year plan to fund the U.S. Highway Trust Fund — and, in turn, any road and transit projects on the table during the period — was brought before Congress by the Obama administration through the U.S. Department of Transportation. Bloomberg Businessweek reports the proposal would add $87 billion on top of what […]

The post Obama Administration Delivers $302 Billion Transportation Funding Proposal Before Congress appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Syracuse Road Construction - Utah DOT

A $302 billion, four-year plan to fund the U.S. Highway Trust Fund — and, in turn, any road and transit projects on the table during the period — was brought before Congress by the Obama administration through the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports the proposal would add $87 billion on top of what is currently in the trust fund in order to bring much-needed dollars to the many bridges and transit systems seeking rehabilitation while creating “millions of jobs” and, thus, boosting the economy, according to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. The fund, currently subsisting on gasoline and diesel taxes, would be funded by a temporary tax increase on overseas earnings by companies, which is the method proposed by President Barack Obama back in February 2014 in his budget request.

Meanwhile, both houses of Congress are seeking six-year funding proposals, though none have any financial resources to draw upon thus far. Further, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have claimed there currently are not enough votes to raise the 18.4-cent tax levied per gallon of gasoline to boost the trust fund’s coffers. One such proposal, made in 2012, failed due to being unable to decide upon a funding source, resulting in a two-year stop-gap measure funded through general tax revenue to keep construction projects moving forward.

The proposal also requested an increase in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s maximum fine for automakers who fail to issue recall notices on defective vehicles in a timely manner. The current maximum fine of $35 million would rise to $300 million “to ensure when a violation occurs it is more than a rounding error,” Foxx explained.

The post Obama Administration Delivers $302 Billion Transportation Funding Proposal Before Congress appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/obama-administration-delivers-302-billion-transportation-funding-proposal-before-congress/feed/ 98
Foxx Pushes NHTSA $300 Million Maximum Fine Hike Before Congress http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/foxx-pushes-nhtsa-300-million-maximum-fine-hike-before-congress/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/foxx-pushes-nhtsa-300-million-maximum-fine-hike-before-congress/#comments Wed, 30 Apr 2014 10:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=812602 As part of a $302 billion, four-year plan to fund both infrastructure and highway funding, U.S. Transportation Secretary asked Congress to allow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to boost its maximum fine from the current $35 million levy to $300 million. Automotive News reports that in addition to the increased maximum fine, Foxx’s proposal […]

The post Foxx Pushes NHTSA $300 Million Maximum Fine Hike Before Congress appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Anthony Foxx + Barack Obama et al

As part of a $302 billion, four-year plan to fund both infrastructure and highway funding, U.S. Transportation Secretary asked Congress to allow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to boost its maximum fine from the current $35 million levy to $300 million.

Automotive News reports that in addition to the increased maximum fine, Foxx’s proposal also would prevent rental companies and dealerships from lending or renting affected vehicles under a recall. NHTSA administrator David Friedman lauded the proposal, stating the increase would serve as a deterrent against future recall delays and related tactics by automakers:

As the nation’s top regulator of the automotive industry, we hold manufacturers accountable for defect and compliance issues regarding their products, and are seeking to further our ability to do so in the future.

Past attempts to pass similar legislation, including a $200 million maximum levy put forth by the Obama administration, have met resistance from both the automotive industry and its dealers. With House Republicans wary of putting more tax dollars into the declining Highway Trust Fund, and industry lobbyists ready to fight they call “an unnecessary deterrent,” the new plan will face an equally difficult road to resolution.

During the 2013 fiscal year, the NHTSA levied a total of over $35 million in fines, including $17.5 million from Ford paid last June for a delayed 2012 recall of 485,000 2001 through 2004 Ford Escapes/Mavericks over a defect in the vehicles’ cruise control leading to stuck-throttle issues.

The post Foxx Pushes NHTSA $300 Million Maximum Fine Hike Before Congress appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/foxx-pushes-nhtsa-300-million-maximum-fine-hike-before-congress/feed/ 2